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You’re Like Bacon . . .

2016 February 14
by Emily Hill

Happy Valentine’s Day to the best readers a blogger could ask for.

May your day be filled with lots of love, laughter and of course, BACON.

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Youre Like Bacon - You Make Everything Better

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Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

2016 February 10
by Emily Hill

I’m going to start off by saying these strawberry chocolate chip cake mix cookies aren’t nearly as decadent as my red velvet rice krispie treats or double peanut butter blossom cookies, but if you need a last-minute Valentine’s Day dessert for a family get-together or preschool party, they’re perfect.

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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies -- only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes and you have the perfect last minute Valentines Day dessert!

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These strawberry cake mix cookies require only five ingredients—four if you leave out the chocolate chips. You could also make them without chocolate chips and dip half of them in melted semisweet chocolate. Another option? Using white chocolate chips instead of semisweet or milk chocolate. Mmm…

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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies -- only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes and you have the perfect last minute Valentines Day dessert!

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Some cake mix cookie recipes call for a 1/2 cup oil instead of the 1/2 cup butter, but I’m all about the butter when it comes to baking. Or toast. Or muffins. Or cornbread…

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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies -- only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes and you have the perfect last minute Valentines Day dessert!

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These strawberry chocolate chip cake mix cookies use a 15.25-oz. box of Pillsbury Strawberry Cake Mix. Some cake mixes are 18.25 ounces. If that’s what you have on hand, try adding an extra egg to the mix. Cake mix cookies are pretty forgiving.

Printable recipe for strawberry chocolate chip cake mix cookies below. Enjoy!
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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Perfect last-minute Valentine's Day dessert for your family get-together or preschool party! Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookie
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 (15.25-oz) box Pillsbury Strawberry Cake Mix
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ to ¾ cup semisweet, milk or white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cake mix, egg, butter and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges barely start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 2 minutes before setting on a wire rack to cool completely.

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If you’re looking for another easy Valentine’s Day treat, try these red velvet rice krispie treats. They’re my absolute favorite way to eat Rice Krispies cereal.

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Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats - slight cocoa flavor with a drizzle of white chocolate. Perfect dessert for Valentines Day (or Christmas)!

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These double peanut butter blossom cookies are almost as easy as the krispie treats and just as yummy. Perhaps you should make them too…

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Double Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies -- you can totally wait for these to est before eating but I prefer indulging while still warm. These cookies melt in your mouth and may change your life. Or your Valentines Day.

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If you’re looking for more yummy cookies, you should browse my desserts {cookies} Pinterest board.

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Follow Emily Hill’s board desserts {cookies} on Pinterest.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Easy Valentine’s Day Class Party

2016 February 7
by Emily Hill

Somehow I ended up in charge of Livi’s 3rd grade class Valentine’s Day party. I think it’s because my name was the first one on the list. (Note to self: make sure yours is the last name on the list.)

Before you think I’m a slacker, I’ve been a room mom, organized class holiday parties and served on the PTA board. This year I was looking to simplify a bit by sticking with twice-a-month classroom volunteering (in two classes), keeping the teachers supplied with Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes and helping with—not organizing—parties.

It’s okay. I’ve since embraced my role as 3rd grade Valentine’s Day party planner and it only took an extra few ounces of Diet Coke (per day). We’ll be doing four simple stations: doing a craft, decorating cookies, playing bingo and playing another Valentine’s Day game. All the organizing got me thinking there might be someone else out there looking for last-minute easy Valentine’s Day class party ideas. I took our general party plan, found some great ideas online and combined them for a simple yet super duper fun Valentine’s Day class party. Have fun!

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Easy Valentines Day Class Party -- 5 simple stations and very little prep work!

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Station #1: Frosted Cookies

Our school PTA provides each classroom with heart sugar cookies and pink frosting. Even if your school doesn’t do this, you can usually find a local grocery store with a bakery that offers seasonal or round sugar cookies for super cheap. Once you have the cookies and frosting, all you need are small paper plates, napkins, plastic knives (lots because they seem to get licked…a lot), sprinkles, red hots, conversation hearts and colored sugar. Yep, those kids will put ALL of those on their cookies. I also like to have mini bottled waters or juice and small cups for the kids to drink while decorating.

This year I found these super cute treat bags in the dollar section at Target.

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Valentines treat bags from Target
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Though most kids eat their cookies within 30 seconds flat (1/2 pound of frosting and all), some like to take them home. Without a treat bag or box, I doubt they make it past the playground without sliding off the plate. Yum.

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Station #2: Valentine’s Day Bingo

I don’t know what it is, but kids LOVE bingo. We have a bingo game at pretty much every class party. I used this Dr. Seuss bingo game for George’s 4th grade Christmas party because we had a Grinch theme. It was a blast! I love this Valentine’s Day bingo from Crazy Little Projects. To die for!
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Valentines Bingo from Crazy Little Projects
Free printable Valentine’s Day bingo game from Crazy Little Projects

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Station #3: Simple Valentine’s Craft

I’m all about minimizing crafty messes—glue stick instead of Elmer’s, little to no drying time, and absolutely no glitter. This Fruit Loop heart bird feeder from Sweet and Simple Living may be a preschool craft but I’m pretty dang sure elementary school-aged kids would totally love making it. All it requires are pipe cleaners, Fruit Loops and some twine. Perfect!
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Fruit Loop Hear Bird Feeder from Sweet and Simple Living
Fruit Loop heart bird feeder from Sweet and Simple Living

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Station #4: Valentine’s Day I Spy and/or Musical Hearts

If you feel I Spy is a bit too similar to bingo, than go with musical hearts. It all depends on how much time and space you have at each station. Any variation of musical chairs is always a hit, and what kid doesn’t love trying to win at I Spy?

For musical hearts, all you have to do is come with some construction paper hearts and a kid-friendly Valentine’s Day playlist. You can find some great songs HERE…

For I Spy, print off this adorable Valentine’s Day I Spy printable from Live Laugh Rowe and have some small prizes on hand for the winners and runners-up. Prize ideas include mini bubbles, erasers, pencils, conversation hearts, bouncy balls, etc.

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Valentine's Day I Spy Printable
Valentine’s Day I Spy + answer sheet from Live Laugh Rowe

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Station #5: Valentine’s Stories

I’m all about reading stations at parties; sometimes you need a pause in the crazy. I suggest putting the reading station between your two busiest stations—maybe musical hearts and bingo. (Bingo gets crazy, people.) Or if you don’t have time for five stations, you can combine the frosted cookies with a story.

Simple as That has put together 32 lovable valentines books for kids and she’s included two of my favorites: Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch and Falling for Rapunzel.

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Valentines books for kids
32 lovable valentines books for kids from Simple as That

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If you’re looking for more Valentine’s Day ideas, check out my be my valentine Pinterest board.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Melt-in-Your-Mouth Double Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

2016 February 5
by Emily Hill

Remember those caramel peanut butter kisses cookies? I sure do. In fact, I haven’t been able to get them out of my head since I made them. And inhaled them. When I spotted the Reese’s peanut butter hearts in the Valentine’s Day aisle at my local grocery store, I knew they wanted nothing more than to sit atop that same soft, chewy, sugar-encrusted peanut butter cookie. And I was right.

Boy, was I right.

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Double Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies -- you can totally wait for these to est before eating but I prefer indulging while still warm. These cookies melt in your mouth and may change your life. Or your Valentines Day.

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These double peanut butter blossom cookies will melt in your mouth, especially if you eat them immediately after removing them from the pan. That Reese’s peanut butter heart gets all melty and gooey and you can’t help but get it all over your face when you eat these Valentine’s Day cookies. Of course you could wait a few hours and let them set, but who’s got time for that?

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Double Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies -- you can totally wait for these to est before eating but I prefer indulging while still warm. These cookies melt in your mouth and may change your life. Or your Valentines Day.

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I wasn’t sure if I could still call them peanut butter blossom cookies if they have a Reese’s heart instead of a Hershey’s kiss, but then I realized they totally fit into the “blossom” family. They’re that super cool cousin all the younger cousins wanted to be when they grew up.

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Double Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies -- you can totally wait for these to est before eating but I prefer indulging while still warm. These cookies melt in your mouth and may change your life. Or your Valentines Day.

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If you’re planning to take these to a Valentine’s Day party (or doorbell ditch them on someone’s porch), you’ll want to plan ahead so they have time to set, at least if you need to stack them. Otherwise you’ll have frosted peanut butter cookies rather than double peanut butter blossom cookies.

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Double Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies -- you can totally wait for these to est before eating but I prefer indulging while still warm. These cookies melt in your mouth and may change your life. Or your Valentines Day.

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Printable recipe for melt-in-your-mouth double peanut butter blossom cookies below. Enjoy!
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Caramel Peanut Butter Kisses Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
I'm pretty sure this is the only way to make peanut butter kisses cookies. The gooey caramel and chocolate combined with soft, chewy peanut butter cookie are simply heavenly. Makes approx. 4 dozen.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookie
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3½ cups flour
  • 48 Reese's peanut butter hearts, unwrapped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine butter, 1 cup sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and milk; continue beating until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add salt, baking soda and flour. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl at least once, until well mixed.
  4. Use a medium scoop (or estimate a large tablespoonful of dough) to shape dough into balls. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes.) Roll balls in ½ cup sugar and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  5. Baked 8 to 10 minutes or until very light golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately press 1 Reese's peanut butter heart in the center of each cookie. Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

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Want to see those caramel peanut butter kisses cookies? Just try not to drool…

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Caramel Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies -- THE BEST peanut butter blossom cookies you will ever eat, hands down. Gooey caramel and chocolate combined with a soft, chewy peanut butter cookie. Enough said.

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If you’re looking for another easy Valentine’s Day treat, try these red velvet rice krispie treats. They’re my absolute favorite way to eat Rice Krispies cereal.

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Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats - slight cocoa flavor with a drizzle of white chocolate. Perfect dessert for Valentines Day (or Christmas)!

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If you’re looking for more yummy cookies, you should browse my desserts {cookies} Pinterest board.

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Follow Emily Hill’s board desserts {cookies} on Pinterest.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Coconut Chocolate Chip Saucepan Bars

2016 February 3
by Emily Hill

I’ve made bar cookies before like these delicious sugar cookie bars (perfect for Valentine’s Day if you tint the frosting pink!) and these “I can eat the whole pan” bar cookies (I really need to update the post with a photo…sheesh!), but I’d never made a batch that used a single pan—a saucepan, to be exact. I’m all about single-pan anything and love any excuse to bake a batch of cookies. Or bar cookies. Or coconut chocolate chip saucepan bars.

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Saucepan Bars -- you make the cookie dough in a saucepan before spreading it into a 9x13 to bake. Some of the best bar cookies I have ever devoured!

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It just so happened Livi and I were the only ones home one evening, and what better way to bond than to bake a dessert? I always make sure I have everything I need for a basic cookie recipe on hand; it’s part of my emergency preparedness plan. And yes, coconut is included.

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Saucepan Bars -- you make the cookie dough in a saucepan before spreading it into a 9x13 to bake. Some of the best bar cookies I have ever devoured!

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These coconut chocolate chip saucepan bars were super easy, though we did learn we’ll wait a little longer to fold in the chocolate chips. I thought the batter was cool enough but discovered it wasn’t as my chocolate chips started to melt and turn the batter into more of a swirled cookie. Not that anyone complained. There was still enough chocolate chip goodness in every bite!

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Saucepan Bars -- you make the cookie dough in a saucepan before spreading it into a 9x13 to bake. Some of the best bar cookies I have ever devoured!

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I bet you could add chopped pecans to this recipe for even more delightful saucepan bars. Next time I might even try using half milk chocolate chips and half semisweet to mix things up a bit. Mmm…

Printable recipe for coconut chocolate chip saucepan bars below. Enjoy!
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Coconut Chocolate Chip Saucepan Bars
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These coconut chocolate chip saucepan bars are made in a saucepan and then spread into a 9x13-inch pan for some of the yummiets bar cookies you'll ever bake! Try throwing in a ½ cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Mmm... Makes approx. 24 bars.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookie
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 T water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, water, vanilla and egg using a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt; stir until thoroughly combined. Let cool a couple minutes before folding in chocolate chips and coconut.
  4. Pour into pan and spread evenly. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool before cutting into bars.

 
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You might also want to make these sugar cookie bars for Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day and all the days…

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Sugar cookie bars

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If you’re looking for more yummy cookies, you should browse my desserts {cookies} Pinterest board.

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Follow Emily Hill’s board desserts {cookies} on Pinterest.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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Maddie’s New Music Mondays: Lumineers

2016 February 1
by Emily Hill

This series is written by my daughter Madison. She has the absolute coolest taste in music. Post may include affiliate links to support my Diet Coke habit.

This week’s band is The Lumineers. Now, when you listen to them, you’re going to probably classify them as country, but YOU’RE WRONG. They’re folk. There’s a difference. And before you get your panties in a wad because you “don’t like folk,” hear me out. I forbid myself to listen to country, so if I listen to it, it’s not country. Don’t worry, I won’t make you suffer through any country songs. ;)

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Maddies New Music Mondays - The Lumineers
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The Lumineers formed in 2012 when pianist Stelth Ulvang and bassist Ben Wahamaki joined Wesley Schultz (lead vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion) in response to a Craigslist ad. You’re probably familiar with their song “Ho Hey,” which spent eight weeks atop Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs list.

The two songs I want you to listen to are “Stubborn Love” and “Big Parade.”

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Lumineers: Stubborn Love

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Lumineers: Big Parade

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I also really like “Submarines” (it’s kinda funny) and “Flowers in Your Hair.”

Holla at the comment section with which one you liked the best and whether you’re more accepting of folk music now!

Credit to Wikipedia!

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Madison profile 150x150
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~ Maddie
xoxo

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Past New Music Mondays:

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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15 Baked Fried Chicken Recipes

2016 January 26
by Emily Hill

Mmm…baked fried chicken.

This week I’m in Shelbyville, Kentucky visiting my sister and my super adorable niece and nephew. I’m totally their favorite aunt and it has nothing to do with how much I spoil them.

Oh, how I love to spoil them.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Kentucky has some great barbecue. My favorite is Shack in the Back; they’re turkey ribs are to die for! Of course, it wouldn’t be Kentucky comfort food without fried chicken,, but with everyone doing the “new year, new you” thing, I thought I’d forego the deep-fried stuff in favor of the baked stuff. Here are 15 baked fried chicken recipes sure to make you wish you were in Kentucky with me.

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15 Baked Fried Chicken Recipes -- you will never guess this fried chicken is actually baked!

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Best baked friend chicken
Best baked fried chicken from Carlsbad Cravings

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Buttermilk fried chicken tenders
Buttermilk fried chicken tenders from Once Upon a Chef

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No fry Italian fried chicken
No-fry Italian fried chicken from Port and Fin

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The best oven fried chicken
The best oven fried chicken from The Baker Upstairs

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KFC oven baked fried chicken tenders
KFC oven baked fried chicken tenders from Recipe Tin Eats

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Oven-fried chicken with homemade coleslaw
Oven-fried chicken with homemade coleslaw from Damn Delicious

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Baked fried chicken
Baked fried chicken from Kirbie’s Cravings

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Oven fried baked buttermilk chicken
Oven fried baked buttermilk chicken from Well Plated

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Oven fried chicken recipe
Oven fried chicken from Life in the Lofthouse

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The best oven friend chicken recipe
The best oven fried chicken from The Recipe Rebel

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Man-catching oven baked fried chicken
Man-catching oven baked fried chicken from The Kitchen Magpie

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better than KFC oven fried chicken
Better-than-KFC oven fried chicken from Clarks Condensed

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Buttermilk ranch oven fried chicken recipe
Buttermilk ranch oven fried chicken from Mom on Timeout

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Crunchy corn flake oven fried chicken
Crunchy oven-fried corn flake chicken from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

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Baked fried chicken recipe from The Cookie Rookie
Baked fried chicken from The Cookie Rookie

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If you’re looking for more yummy chicken recipes, try browsing my chicken recipes Pinterest board.

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ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.
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